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How to remodel to increase ceiling height

Updated February 21, 2017

Higher ceilings make a room's overall dimensions seem larger. Increasing ceiling height expands the way you can arrange overhead lighting and artwork on upper walls. Adding space overhead also allows larger windows. Taller ceilings accommodate 8-foot windows, which really bring in lots of light. To raise ceilings, some structural reinforcement and alterations are needed. Therefore, the family may need to leave the house for a few days during the conversion. The final result will be worth the time and labour invested, plus any inconvenience of the construction.

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Vault ceilings over main living areas. Hire a general contractor to assess revamping attic rafters to allow for removing 8-foot ceilings altogether. Use angle-iron support brackets to secure house framework, so ceilings pitch upward to follow roof lines. As a second option, build trusses to slope the vaulted ceiling to half the pitch of the exterior roof. Vault ceilings in the kitchen, master bedroom or main living room, for example.

Remodel ceilings to create 10-foot tray ceilings. Create these higher ceilings with framing specially constructed to move the entire ceiling of a room slightly higher into attic space. Design this through envisioning how to lift the ceiling in its flat position upward about 18 to 24 inches. Picture the areas around the sides as sloping, so the ceiling looks like a "tray" turned upside down. Install recessed lighting around the perimeter of the room before adding drywall to the ceiling space.

Raise part of the roof for a dormer effect. Envision a 30-foot long section of the roof on the back of the house lifted up to form a wedge effect. Frame the wedge space for windows along the tall side facing the lawn. Install windows side-by-side along the dormer edge, so light streams into the room located just under the dormer.

Build a skylight well. Create a framed shaft reaching from a living room to a skylight on the roof. Install 8-foot square framing to channel light through a pyramid-shaped well. Build the 8-foot square shaft at ceiling height to reach a 4-foot square skylight on the house roof. Install drywall to line the well and fully enclose it.

Raise ceilings to approximately 9 feet. Go into the attic to plan construction that will raise all ceiling rafters in a single-story house or in a second-floor area. This will run across each room's ceiling just above the drywall. Reinstall rafters approximately 15 inches higher on attic framework, so you can tear out existing rafters and ceiling material. Add drywall to 9-foot ceilings and finish with joint compound. Paint the ceilings and touch up wall areas last.

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Things You'll Need

  • Angle-iron support brackets
  • Boards for framing
  • Recessed lighting
  • Drywall
  • Windows
  • Skylight
  • Joint compound
  • Paint

About the Author

Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.

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